[ sting ]
See synonyms for: stingstingingstung on

verb (used with object),stung [stuhng] /stʌŋ/ or (Obsolete) stang [stang]; /stæŋ/; stung; sting·ing.
  1. to prick or wound with a sharp-pointed, often venom-bearing organ.

  2. to affect painfully or irritatingly as a result of contact, as certain plants do: to be stung by nettles.

  1. to cause to smart or to cause a sharp pain: The blowing sand stung his eyes.

  2. to cause mental or moral anguish: to be stung with remorse.

  3. to goad or drive, as by sharp irritation.

  4. Slang. to cheat or take advantage of, especially to overcharge; soak.

verb (used without object),stung [stuhng] /stʌŋ/ or (Obsolete) stang [stang]; /stæŋ/; stung; sting·ing.
  1. to use, have, or wound with a sting, as bees.

  2. to cause a sharp, smarting pain, as some plants, an acrid liquid or gas, or a slap or hit.

  1. to cause acute mental pain or irritation, as annoying thoughts or one's conscience: The memory of that insult still stings.

  2. to feel acute mental pain or irritation: He was stinging from the blow to his pride.

  3. to feel a smarting pain, as from a blow or the sting of an insect:His cheeks stung from the hail.

  1. an act or instance of stinging:The allergic reaction to a sting may be delayed for several hours.

  2. a wound, pain, or smart caused by stinging:After an hour or so, the throbbing of the wasp sting subsided to a dull ache.

  1. any sharp physical or mental wound, hurt, or pain:Laser treatment for wrinkles sounds like magic, but some people can’t tolerate the accompanying sting and burn.

  2. anything or an element in anything that wounds, pains, or irritates: to feel the sting of defeat;Death, where is thy sting?

  3. capacity to wound or pain: Satire has a sting.

  4. a sharp stimulus or incitement: driven by the sting of jealousy;the sting of ambition.

  5. Botany. a glandular hair on certain plants, as nettles, that emits an irritating fluid.

  6. Zoology. any of various sharp-pointed, often venom-bearing organs of insects and other animals capable of inflicting painful or dangerous wounds.

  7. Slang.

    • an ostensibly illegal operation, as the buying of stolen goods or the bribing of public officials, used by undercover investigators to collect evidence of wrongdoing.

  8. Television.Sometimes stinger . a brief burst of music or a sound effect used to emphasize a moment of humor, drama, or fright in a show, or to punctuate a transition or another part of a show’s structure.

Origin of sting

First recorded before 900; Middle English verb stingen, Old English stingan “to pierce”; cognate with Old Norse stinga “to pierce,” Gothic -stangan (in usstangan “to pull out”); the noun is derivative of the verb

Other words from sting

  • sting·ing·ly, adverb
  • sting·less, adjective
  • out·sting, verb (used with object), out·stung, out·sting·ing.
  • re·sting, verb, re·stung, re·sting·ing.
  • un·sting·ing, adjective
  • un·sting·ing·ly, adverb

Words Nearby sting Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sting in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sting


/ (stɪŋ) /

verbstings, stinging or stung
  1. (of certain animals and plants) to inflict a wound on (an organism) by the injection of poison

  2. to feel or cause to feel a sharp mental or physical pain

  1. (tr) to goad or incite (esp in the phrase sting into action)

  2. (tr) informal to cheat, esp by overcharging

  1. a skin wound caused by the poison injected by certain insects or plants

  2. pain caused by or as if by the sting of a plant or animal

  1. a mental pain or pang: a sting of conscience

  2. a sharp pointed organ, such as the ovipositor of a wasp, by which poison can be injected into the prey

  3. the ability to sting: a sharp sting in his criticism

  4. something as painful or swift of action as a sting: the sting of death

  5. a sharp stimulus or incitement

  6. botany another name for stinging hair

  7. slang a swindle or fraud

  8. slang a trap set up by the police to entice a person to commit a crime and thereby produce evidence

  9. sting in the tail an unexpected and unpleasant ending

Origin of sting

Old English stingan; related to Old Norse stinga to pierce, Gothic usstangan to pluck out, Greek stakhus ear of corn

Derived forms of sting

  • stinging, adjective
  • stingingly, adverb
  • stingingness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with sting


see take the sting out of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.